Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Garbine Muguruza beats Maria Sharapova to reach the French Open semis

Rafael Nadal celebrates winnning his fourth round match against Germany's Maximilian Marterer Charles Platiau Reuters Rafael Nadal celebrates winnning his fourth round match against Germany's Maximilian Marterer Charles Platiau Reuters
Tamara Craig | 07 June, 2018, 14:40

The world number one will face 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza after the Spanish woman overwhelmed Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-1 in the day's other quarter-final.

Top-ranked Simona Halep has rallied past Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 to reach the French Open semifinals.

"I think it would be odd for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", said the 31-year-old. "My head won it", Halep said.

"I mean, it's not that important, because it's constantly this thing going on, you know. since previous year", she said after a crushing 6-2, 6-1 last-eight victory over Maria Sharapova in Paris.

Muguruza holds a 3-1 career edge over Halep in head-to-head meetings but the Romanian won their only clash on clay in Stuttgart in 2015. The victor earns a berth in the final at Roland Garros - plus the No 1 ranking that now belongs to Halep.

In short, the market has been convinced that Halep is the better player throughout this event, but yet has ditched her for this particular match-up, and it's hard to understand why.

An anti-climactic match ended predictably, with a Sharapova backhand nestling in the net - her 27th unforced error.

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Sharapova didn't play a point in the fourth round, because Serena Williams pulled out of their much-anticipated showdown with an injured chest muscle.

Two-time finalist Halep remained on course for her first Roland Garros title by beating the German 12th seed.

Nadal lost the opener 6-4 against 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman but began to play better after a rain delay of just under an hour.

It was also a match which witnessed a colossal 99 unforced errors.

In the other men's quarter-final, number three Marin Cilic and number five Juan Martin del Potro were at 5-all in a first-set tie breaker when the match-up of past US Open champions was stopped. Like, before, I gave it a lot of importance so that's why you're fighting every week, and I got there. She started going for less, adding a little more lift to her shots and letting Kerber make the mistakes.

Sharapova looked out of touch from the beginning and was never allowed to settle, as Muguruza posted her first victory against the Russian at the fourth attempt. She was prior to the draw and it took a gift draw for Elina Svitolina - which the Ukrainian was unable to exploit - for her to lose this status for the opening two rounds. Serena Williams is a three-time French Open champion, Jennifer Capriati won in 2001, and the legendary Chris Evert retired with a 94.5% winning record on clay, triumphing seven times at Roland Garros. Ironically, perhaps, the only one missing is the Slam everyone expects her to someday win: Wimbledon. "If I do that, I will be okay after the match, no matter the result". I mentioned several days ago that both players have a very high peak level on clay but it is Stephens with the more impressive data, both in the last 12 months and also here in the last two weeks.

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